The environmental club hopes to engender change and provide awareness


Meredith VanSkiver

One of four homemade recycling bins made by members of the environmental club

All the way in Grandville, then sophomore Dani Ahmetovic found himself pondering the environment at a swim meet.

“I don’t know why I just really started thinking about global warming,” Dani said, “and it made me kind of depressed.”

Though this instant signifies when Dani first started genuinely considering the environment and the impact humans leave on it, he didn’t act upon these thoughts at his old school. 

It wasn’t until Dani’s move to FHC that he decided to do something about his feelings. He went to AP Environmental Science teacher Chad Scholten to talk about starting a group where kids could get together to brainstorm ideas about how to help the environment, and thus the environmental club was born. 

Although Dani started the club, he doesn’t like to claim any sort of domineering role within it.

“I’d like to call myself more the founder than the leader,” Dani, now a senior said. “I don’t want to consider myself the president because I want everybody’s ideas to be equal. I feel like if I call myself the leader then I’m being full of myself. I’d rather just have everybody have their own inputs. I want it to just be a group where overall everyone has the same amount of power.”

Meetings have already been occurring weekly this school year, and though the club has a month of meetings under their belt, they still encourage anyone with an interest in helping the school become more environmentally progressive to stop by. 

Dani encourages participation and thinks that many people would enjoy the contents of the club. However, he thinks some students have certain factors that may hinder their participation. 

“We want as many people [as possible] to get excited and interested in [environmental club],” Dani said. “One thing with environmental sustainability is that a lot of people do care about it, but they’re either afraid to show it or they have the excuse of ‘oh I don’t have enough time’, so really I want more people to not be afraid to show that you care.”

Senior Chloe Zeien shares Dani’s passion for the world around her, a trait that has led her to the club as well. 

“The main reason I joined the environmental club was because of the APES class I took last year,” Chloe said. “It made me have a greater appreciation for the environment we live in and opened my eyes to the big problems at hand. [It] made me want to try to have a positive impact on our area.”

Each Tuesday, the meetings are set up rather casually. Students simply discuss changes that they think should occur around the school and then brainstorm ways these changes could become a reality. 

Most recently, the challenge the group has decided to tackle is recycling at school, or rather the lack of it. The club noticed an excess of trash during lunchtime and concluded that a portion of the waste could be recycled. To combat this, they put up four recycling bins in the lunchroom for students to use. The initiative has been such a success, and the club is already planning on bringing in more bins to meet the need. 

In addition to expanding the practice of recycling during lunch, the club wants to improve other aspects of the cafeteria as well. 

“Recycling is the big problem we are currently tackling,” Chloe said, “but we’re also discussing other ways to improve the cafeteria, such as possibly implementing reusable items instead of single-use plastics.”

Dani is happy with what the club has accomplished so far in the short time since school has begun. However, he isn’t content and still has plans to build upon what the club has started. He hopes that the environmental club can expand awareness for the natural world as well as completing various projects around the school.

“I want [environmental club] to overall increase awareness around our school with posters and papers,” Dani said. “My theory was that if we [can] get students to talk about it, we [can] get parents and people around the community to talk about it. Actually doing something and getting something started like we’re doing right now is really beneficial.”

Dani credits Scholten for being responsible for a portion of the group’s success, thanks to the network he has already built up at the school. 

“Mr. Scholten gave us a lot of ideas and he gives us a lot of background of the school with recycling or who to talk to if we need help,” Dani said. “He’s good at discussions too. At meetings, he’ll chip in every once and a while.”

At its core, the club was created to spread awareness about the environment. Members agree that it’s an easy access point for students to get involved and make a difference.

“Whether you believe in climate change or not, the earth will inevitably run out of resources; there’s no way that it won’t,” Dani said. “So, recycling, reusing, and reducing is a great way to help sustain what we have. Being a part of an environmental club, in my eyes, helps me think about this stuff more often. Just getting more people involved in this movement will help grow the ideology of sustainability.”

In a world full of natural disasters, extreme temperatures, and a potentially precarious future, the members of the environmental club want everyone to know that their group is a platform for students to start thinking about the Earth’s future and what they can do to help it.

“Students should join the environmental club to make a positive impact on our environment and our community,” Chloe said. “As young people, we need to be the ones to take charge and make a change.”